Sermon – March 10, 2021 – Lent Wednesday 4
Printable PDF: 3-10-2021 Midweek 4 Sermon
Pastor David R. Clark ~ Mark 14:55-65 ~ March 10, 2021 ~ Midweek 4 Sermon
HANDS OF HYPOCRISY (Caiaphas)
55The chief priests and the whole Sanhedrin were looking for evidence against Jesus so that they could put him to death, but they did not find any. 56Many testified falsely against him, but their statements did not agree. 57Then some stood up and gave this false testimony against him: 58“We heard him say, ‘I will destroy this temple made with human hands and in three days will build another, not made with hands.’” 59Yet even then their testimony did not agree. 60Then the high priest stood up before them and asked Jesus, “Are you not going to answer? What is this testimony that these men are bringing against you?” 61But Jesus remained silent and gave no answer. Again the high priest asked him, “Are you the Messiah, the Son of the Blessed One?” 62“I am,” said Jesus. “And you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of the Mighty One and coming on the clouds of heaven.” 63The high priest tore his clothes. “Why do we need any more witnesses?” he asked. 64“You have heard the blasphemy. What do you think?” They all condemned him as worthy of death. 65Then some began to spit at him; they blindfolded him, struck him with their fists, and said, “Prophesy!” And the guards took him and beat him.
Brothers and sisters in Christ,
Every good story needs a bad guy and the passion of Jesus has plenty. Judas betrayed Jesus for a few pieces of silver. Peter denied he knew Jesus. Pontius Pilate sentenced an innocent man to die. Each showed an inner struggle over their betrayal.
Unlike Caiaphas. When Caiaphas puts on the black hat, it is a perfect fit. He is cold, calculating, and completely ruthless. The man who held the highest spiritual office, the man to represent God, wasn’t going to let anyone stand in his way, not even Jesus.
There is a word for pretending to be something you are not – a word that fits Caiaphas: hypocrite. Today we examine the hypocrisy of Caiaphas. Taking a closer look at him will force us to take a closer look at our own HANDS OF HYPOCRISY.
Jesus was brought before the Sanhedrin in the middle of the night. The intended goal was a quick conviction, no matter the evidence.
But the Sanhedrin couldn’t come up with any evidence. How do you pin a capital crime on someone who has never done anything wrong? Some testified that they heard Jesus make the claim, 58I will destroy this temple made with human hands and in three days will build another, not made with hands. Jesus did say that (John 2:19), but he was talking about his body, not the temple.
Presiding over this mess was Caiaphas who seems angry at everyone. He’s disgusted that his false witnesses don’t agree, so he takes matters into his own hands. He addressed Jesus directly, 60Are you not going to answer? What is this testimony that these men are bringing against you?
When Jesus gave no answer, he put Jesus under oath (Matthew 26:63) and demanded, 61Are you the Messiah, the Son of the Blessed One? It was a simple yes or no question but also devilishly clever. Saying nothing would be a tacit denial. Saying no would be an actual denial and answering “yes” would give Caiaphas what he needed.
Jesus understood and yet he declared, 62I am…And you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of the Mighty One and coming on the clouds of heaven. It was time to testify to the truth and carry to completion God’s plan of salvation.
Caiaphas must have been ecstatic when Jesus uttered those words, but he couldn’t show it. Instead, he tore his clothes and asked the Sanhedrin, 63Why do we need any more witnesses? 64…You have heard the blasphemy. Blasphemy. Claiming to be the Messiah, the Son of God. That was all the Sanhedrin needed to be rid of Jesus once and for all. And in response to Caiaphas, we see this was really just an unruly mob: 64…They all condemned him as worthy of death. 65Then some began to spit at him; they blindfolded him, struck him with their fists, and said, “Prophesy!”
What would you say today about spitting in someone’s face? Or attacking a blindfolded man who couldn’t defend himself? And why such a brutal reaction?
It was partly political. The Jewish leaders were afraid that people would forsake them to follow Jesus. Then they would lose their authority and autonomy.
There was also a spiritual reason. Caiaphas represented a religion that believed God rewarded people for being good. They were convinced that they were doing enough good to get into heaven on their own.
And then Jesus turned their comfortable world upside down. He called them to repentance. He called them whitewashed tombs, a brood of vipers, children of the devil. He called them out for their hypocrisy because he wanted them to see he was the only way to heaven.
You know what the fruit of faith is. There is also the fruit of hypocrisy. The hypocrite wants to project a shiny image to keep other people from seeing what’s on the inside. The hypocrite believes that he has nothing for which to repent.
God’s Word says something far different. “If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us.” (1 John 1:8) Are you guilty of hypocrisy? Have you ever thought, “I may not be perfect, but at least I’m not as bad as ______”?
You have probably heard unbelievers say the church is full of hypocrites. We don’t like that. But should we complain about that or should we be saying, “You’re right”? We want people to see us a certain way, but there are still things we don’t want anyone to see. Even if we hide them from people, we can’t keep anything from God.
If you sin, you are guilty of hypocrisy. So what makes us any different than Caiaphas? Jesus! Out of his love for us, Jesus calls us to repent. Jesus calls us to stop pretending that we have no sin and look to him to remove it. When we come clean and confess, he is faithful and just and will forgive us and purify us from all unrighteousness.
Every good story needs a good villain. In this story we are all villains. But every good story needs an even better hero. Jesus knew he would be mistreated. He knew Caiaphas would try to trap him. He answered anyway because he was on a rescue mission. Thanks be to God that our hero is even better. Our hero, Jesus, washes the hypocrisy right off of our hands. Amen.